Huron Partners to Support Community History

Buxton, Ontario is a great place to be on the September long weekend.

The small farming community in Chatham-Kent attracts thousands on the holiday weekend for its annual Homecoming celebrations, an event now in its 95th year. The four day celebration—including music, food, sports, and a parade—nurtures a deep sense of community identity for those who trace their roots to Buxton. The community was first settled in 1849 as a home for African-American slaves escaping to freedom in Canada on the Underground Railroad.

The opening event of Homecoming weekend is the Buxton History and Genealogy Conference, which includes engaging speakers and a guided tour of the past and present of the Buxton landscape. This conference is supported by the work of the Huron Community History Centre, established by Drs. Nina Reid-Maroney and Tom Peace in 2017. The Centre, together with the University of Windsor and St. Clair College, stepped up to provide the logistical support for the long-running conference two years ago, enabling this pillar of Homecoming festivities to continue.

Partnering to support local projects and build community capacity is a key goal of the Huron Community History Centre, explains Dr. Peace. For Dr. Reid-Maroney, the conference is also directly tied to her own teaching and research interests, including her new book Women in the “Promised Land”: Essays in African-Canadian History (Canadian Scholars Press, 2018), edited with Boulou Ebanda de B’beri and Wanda Thomas Bernard.

This year, two Huron students joined the trip to Buxton. Taisha Pinsonneault (Psychology ’18) remembered childhood visits to Homecoming weekend with her grandmother. For her, the conference rekindled an interest in learning more about her own family history in the region. Tom Lang (History,’19) attended the conference as part of his summer internship with the Huron Community History Centre, the focus of which was to build a new website that will be used to provide digital infrastructure support for community projects such as the Buxton conference.

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